Morwell River Diversion

Ms BATH (Eastern Victoria) (20:48): (2150) President, I think that I may well have been the first female, the first lady, to sign the book under the reign of King Charles III, so I am very pleased to be the last member of Parliament to make an adjournment this evening during your reign as President in the 59th Parliament.

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Water, and it relates to the Morwell River flood diversion, which was completed in February of this year. Now, in June 2021 there was a significant flooding event—we had the floods throughout Gippsland—but it led to cracks and flaws in the Morwell River diversion. At the time there were concerns that this floodwater would actually spill into the Yallourn mine, so a diversion was constructed so that repairs could be carried out. A group of concerned farmers contacted me recently because of the effect of this diversion, because there is now sustained flooding upstream on their farming land. It is a flood plain, but the difference is a great deal of their property is being flooded for up to two weeks at a time, in essence killing all the grass and meaning that in some cases 90 per cent of their property and their farm is actually under water for prolonged periods of time.

The system was designed so that 400 megalitres per day must continue down the Morwell River. Once this rate has been exceeded the water can then be diverted into the Hazelwood mine. When the Hazelwood mine is only allowed to divert 3 gigalitres a day, these upstream farmers are being severely affected, and as I have said, their farmland is damaged. Two to three days or three to four days was the current rate that had been considered and that they have been putting up with, we will say, for the last 10 to 15, 20 or 50 years. However, two weeks is killing off their property.

Engie is the company that is between a rock and a hard place in effect. They have met with farmers, but no government agency has met with farmers to hear their plea on how this can be addressed. So the action that I seek is for the Minister for Water to meet with this group of affected farmers with the aim of working through a solution, listening to their issues and working out any compensation as required.